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Tue, 08.10.1943

Ronnie Spector, 1960s Singer born

Ronnie Spector

*Ronnie Spector was born on this date in 1943. She was a Black singer who formed the girl group the Ronettes in 1957 with her elder sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley.

Veronica Yvette Bennett was born in Spanish Harlem, the daughter of a Black Cherokee mother and an Irish white-American father. Bennett and her sister, Estelle Bennett, were encouraged to sing by their large family, as was their cousin, Nedra Talley. Together they formed the Darling Sisters, known later as the Ronettes. They performed while attending George Washington High School in Washington Heights, Manhattan.

Bennett and Phil Spector began having an affair soon after signing to his label in 1963. Early in their relationship, she was unaware that he was married. Once, Bennett was busted by house detectives for prostitution at the Delmonico Hotel in New York City after leaving a room they had booked. She was allowed to call Spector, who threatened the hotel, and then they allowed her to leave. After Spector divorced his wife in 1965, he purchased a home in Beverly Hills, where he lived with Bennett.

She fronted the group while record producer Phil Spector produced most of their output. Bennett sang lead on the Ronettes' string of hits in the early-to-mid–1960s, including "Be My Baby" (1963), "Baby, I Love You" (1963), "The Best Part of Breakin' Up" (1964), and "Walking in the Rain" (1964). In 1964, she launched a solo career with the single "So Young." They married at Beverly Hills City Hall on April 14, 1968. Bennett changed her surname and became known as Ronnie Spector. Their son Donté Phillip was adopted in 1969. Two years later, Phil surprised her with adopted twins Louis and Gary for Christmas. The two were married in 1968 and separated in 1972.

In 1972, she fled their mansion barefoot and without any belongings with the help of her mother. In their 1974 divorce settlement, Ronnie forfeited all future record earnings after Phil threatened to have a hitman kill her. She received $25,000, a used car, and monthly alimony of $2,500 for five years. Spector tried to rebuild her career, keeping his surname professionally because "I needed any way I could to get back in; I'd been kept away so long." But Phil hired lawyers to prevent her from singing classic hit songs and denied her royalties. After 1980, she released five studio albums: Siren (1980), Unfinished Business (1987), Something's Gonna Happen (2003), Last of the Rock Stars (2006), and English Heart (2016). Bennett also recorded one extended play, She Talks to Rainbows (1999).

In 1986, she experienced a career resurgence when she featured on Eddie Money's song "Take Me Home Tonight." In 1982, Spector married her manager, Jonathan Greenfield. They lived around Danbury, Connecticut, with their two sons, Austin Drew, and Jason Charles. In 1988, Spector and the other Ronettes sued Phil for $10 million in damages, rescission of the contract, the return of the masters, and recoupment of money received from the sale of Ronettes masters. It took ten years for the case to make it to trial, and after a prolonged legal battle, Phil was ordered to pay Spector over 1 million dollars in royalties. Bennett has been referred to as the original "bad girl of rock and roll."

In 1990, she published a memoir, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, Or, My Life as a Fabulous Ronette. Spector revealed that after marriage, Phil subjected her to years of psychological torment and sabotaged her career by forbidding her to perform. In 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Ronettes. Ronnie Spector died on January 12, 2022, at age 78.

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